A group of people who are living in a municipal camp for the homeless have started an urban farming project in Durban’s inner city.Spokesperson, Mthokozisi Mathonsi noted that they took advantage of a programme offered by the municipality to empower homeless people.The inner-city farm grows and sells organic vegetables to leading supermarket Boxer Superstores and to members of the public.
In a bid to teach basic skills to 2 200 homeless people staying in the city’s 12 homeless shelters, eThekwini Municipality together with the Department of Social Development is offering them various training programmes, including an introductory computer and word processing course.
According to Mathonsi, the members of the inner-city farm approached the municipality for assistance after deciding to start a food garden near the homeless camp they were staying in and subsequently identified a suitable plot of land.
The proposal was in line with the city’s aim of empowering the homeless and assistance was given to get the project off the ground. Today, spinach, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, mint and coriander are produced.
The 10-member group’s innovative thinking has earned them two additional parcels of land they will use to expand from their North Beach-based garden.“We have received another piece of land from the municipality in South Beach to start another garden. Meanwhile, an NGO in Umbumbulu on the South Coast has also invited us to use its land,” said Mathonsi.
“With continuous interventions and comprehensive plans to aggressively address homelessness in the city, we are also contributing to the realisation of the National Drug Master Plan which aims to reduce supply and demand of drugs for non-medicinal use,” said eThekwini Deputy Mayor Belinda Scott.
Elangeni also donates some of its vegetables to the city’s soup kitchens. “When the Coronavirus hit in March, some of us who were working in part-time jobs found ourselves out of places to stay and out of food. When we first came to the camp with the homeless people, we realised how privileged we were and that we should try to contribute to their livelihood,” he said.